Monrovia — Liberia’s leading pro-democracy institution, Naymote Partners for Democratic Development has called on President George Weah to report to the public on the status of several special committees he set up to investigate wide range of issues of national concerns including allegations of corruption, mysterious death and security brutality against peaceful citizens.
Since his ascendancy to the presidency in 2018, President Weah has constituted several special committees comprising of technicians and specialists.
Naymote, in its request said these special committees perform functions which the traditional bureaucracy might take longer or might not have the expertise to perform; adding that the public expects high quality deliverables and integrity in the conduct of the work special presidential committees.
Although these Presidential Committees were given special tasks or mandate to conduct special investigations and report back within a reasonable timeframe, most of them have descend into oblivion and obscurity; leaving the public in suspense.
In a statement issued through its Executive Director Eddie Jarwolo, Naymote said it has tracked 14 committees constituted by President George Weah between 2018 and 2022, but only three have so far publicly reported or executed their mandates, while the status of the work of the remaining 12 remains largely unknown. This might be either because their reports were not made public, or they did not perform their functions, Naymote said.
According to the pro-democracy group, special committees are an important part of the governance process and facilitate service delivery and accountability mechanisms – and as such, it is important that the government ensures that the functions of the traditional bureaucracy occasionally outsourced to special committees are speedily implemented, and reports on their activities are made available to the public.
It noted that this is important not only for the effective functioning of the government, but also in deepening trust between the government and the citizens and strengthening the social contract which mandates the government to act on behalf of the people.
“We therefore call on the President of the Republic of Liberia to ensure the timely release of the reports of these presidential committees where they are available and prevail on those that are yet to deliver on their mandate or report on their work to do so in the interest of the public,” the institution said through its Executive Director.
Continuing, it said: “The institution believes for the government to be accountable the people must be aware of what is happening in the country so it is important that the press and the people are able to get information about the statutes of the various committees’ setup by the President in a timely manner.”
Committees whose reports are publicly available
In the statement, the organization catalogued committees that executed their tasks and whose reports were made public. One of them is the Special Presidential Task Force to “retrieve all government-owned vehicles” in the possession of former government officials.
This taskforce was established on February 26, 2018 and executed its mandate and reported to the President on July 4, 2018 and was immediately dissolved. However, there is no information on action taken against noncompliant former officials.
Another committee was the ‘Special Presidential Committee to review allegations made by Global Witness in its reports concerning the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL)’. This committee was established in April 2018 and chaired by the former Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission’s head, Cllr. Ndubuisi Nwabudike. The committee executed its mandate, and its report was presented to the President on May 16, 2018. However, there is no available information on action taken in implementing the recommendations in the report, Naymote noted.
Another committee that completed its task was the “Special Presidential Committee to recruit two Deputy Auditor Generals of the General Auditing Commission (Deputy Auditor General for Audit Services and Deputy Auditor General for Administration), and the Director General of the Internal Audit Agency.
The committee was established in October 2021 and it committee executed its mandate and reported to the President on May 16, 2022. The President appointed the Director-General of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) and three new Deputies at the GAC on the same day.
Committees whose status are unknown
Meanwhile, top among the committee whose reports are yet to be made available to the public include the Special Presidential Committee to probe a petition presented by members of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) on allegations of harassment and violence meted out against journalists and the Committee to investigate waves of death in Liberia amongst public servants, particularly in Monrovia and its environs, including the mysterious deaths of two employees of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and the former Director General of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA).
Others include the Special Presidential Committee to Mediate Nimba County Land Conflict and the mandate given by President Weah to Foreign Affairs Minister, Dee-Maxwell Kemayah, to investigate circumstances leading to the issuance of Liberia’s Diplomatic passport to Mr. Sheik Bassirou Kante, who was recently arrested in the United States on allegations of fraud.